Image: Gary Williamson via MBC PR

The Snuts’ Callum Wilson talks Parlophone exit, creative freedom, and Millenials

In September 2022, The Snuts’ sophomore album release Burn the Empire was marked by the social media campaign #ReleaseTheRecord. Pushback from Parlophone, a record label owned by Warner Music Group, on the band’s desire to bring forward the release date was just one sign of months of mounting frustration at the limited creative freedom the label offered. Despite the success of the album (earning them a second top 3), it was this saga that cemented the quartet’s resolution to exit their deal with the major record label. 

And they followed through. Seventeen months later, West Lothian’s newly independent indie rockers have returned with Millennials from their own aptly named Happy Artist Records. Set in motion by a speech from socialist firebrand Tony Benn, Burn the Empire featured scathing criticisms of corruption in government and big businesses alike. Now, frontman Jack Cochrane, bassist Callum Wilson, guitarist Joe McGillveray and drummer Jordan Mackay alongside producer and apparent “wizard” Scott Anderson are set to offer a decisive departure.  

In Wilson’s words, Millennials is an “anti-Dylan” album

“Do you just keep banging the drums and saying, “everything’s still sh*te by the way”?” Wilson posits in response to the new shift towards “emotional commentary”. “That was a conscious decision,” he suggests, “to focus on the moments of joy… that everybody feels.” 

The Snuts’ newest music is by no means a sign of fading cynicism, but a recognition of the country’s persisting weariness with politics. “Not that it feels any better,” adds Wilson, before articulating the objectives of the record. “If somebody is not feeling too great, they can hopefully listen to the record and leave feeling a little bit better.” 

With few frills or fancy metaphors, the album is about “making a direct connection quicker,” he explains. “Jack’s [Cochrane] entire ethos with this record was to… present an idea to people in a way that they could just digest it”. In Wilson’s words, Millennials is an “anti-Dylan” album, one that, despite Bob Dylan’s status as frontman Jack Cochrane’s favourite artist, shies away from complex lyricism and seeks to energise listeners in just thirty minutes. 

“You can record a song in the Highlands of Scotland and somebody in Tokyo will love it”

Callum Wilson, The Snuts

On the album title itself, Wilson clarifies “we didn’t see it as ourselves”. Instead, Millennials represents “a stamp in time” for the band. “Whatever era fits you – we have very, very similar emotional experiences.”  

Put together from what was “effectively an Airbnb” in Northern Scotland to Portland and Japanese recording studios, Millennials is a remarkably sonically cohesive collection of songs for an album recorded on the fly. The universality of music is an aspect of being in a band that Wilson expresses particular awe with the fact: “You can record a song in the Highlands of Scotland and somebody in Tokyo will love it.” 

What’s more, this new-found creative freedom has made for “an invigorating [production] process”. “There was nobody learning over your shoulder telling you how you should think or what you should create,” Wilson notes, as the absence of rigid label deadlines did initially somewhat stagnate production. “We lived with the songs for a bit,” he goes on to explain. Therefore, when recording did finally take place, The Snuts’ drive for independent success was palpable. To Wilson, Millennials is “the urgency [they] felt in their lives at that moment on record. I think you can hear the displacement of us on the record,” he adds. 

“You’re free to be yourself, not a version of yourself people are trying to commercialise or turn into a commodity”


Regardless, it was an experience that ultimately proved rewarding for the band. “You were seeing songs transform in real time,” Wilson puts it. Without the continuous back-and-forth feedback that signing to a major label accompanies, the group’s creative freedom would serve to further energise the making of Millennials 

Their newfound independence has not only given the Scottish quartet greater creative control but has also been similarly personally liberating. Wilson articulates “You’re free to be yourself, not a version of yourself people are trying to commercialise or turn into a commodity”. As such a huge change in one’s life would, the freedom of recording Millennials has not only naturally bled into the subject matter of the record, but also touring and promotion. “I find it quite ironic that when we were with a major label, we were constantly trying to find a press angle… and in leaving a major label we’ve ended up with a story that works,” Wilson muses.  

Furthermore, it seems the drama of the last album release was only smoke in the fire of the band’s tainted experiences with Parlophone. “When you’re with a major label, you almost get told to feel a certain way”. The emphasis placed on maximising sales by huge record label companies didn’t sit well with The Snuts.  Hailing from working-class backgrounds in the town of Whitburn, the Scottish quartet know the value of making music beyond the potential for monetary gain. “They just wanted to sell it to people,” Wilson laments – a concern with money that directly challenged the band’s values. “We don’t want people struggling to make rent one month because they bought the super-mega bundle or 300 CDs.” 

Despite the optimism of Millennials, The Snuts’ secession from Parlophone wasn’t painless. “You want to tell a tale to encourage other artists, but at the end of the day, nothing worth doing is easy,” Wilson explains. Their exit from what seemed like an entrapping record deal was, in Wilson’s eyes more “a lesson in being true to yourself” than a story of constant victories. “If a system is detrimental to your health… to your creativity, then you maybe need to go through a period of uncertainty to reach the next chapter,” he emphasises. 

“To turn your back… to chase money in the wrong places. I think it’s a disgrace and the government should hang their heads in shame”


The decision to move away from “social commentary” certainly has not made the band any less vocal on individualistic moral bankruptcy in government and big businesses. In fact, a disdain for the prioritisation of profits over cultural enrichment is a theme that appears to run deep into the band’s ethos. Wilson says, in simple terms, “It’s a clusterf*ck.” 

Evidently a topic the band has devoted a lot of thought to, Wilson goes on to assert “the [government] need to take a step back and understand where we can fit in in the world, and in my opinion, that is culturally”. “To turn your back… to chase money in the wrong places. I think it’s a disgrace and the government should hang their heads in shame,” he concludes. 

Moreover, the challenge of fully embracing music without the privilege of record label support is something the band are far from naive to, informed by their backgrounds in construction. “It’s f*cking impossible to be 9 to 5 and pursue your passion to your full potential,” Wilson admits. Nonetheless, the bassist’s optimism and evident affection for the UK’s music scene shines through. “What we’re not lacking in is creativity – we could be a cultural superpower.” 

“We shouldn’t be competing against each other for tiny revenues and streams…we should be working for a common goal – and that’s fair payment for artists,” he highlights. Wilson’s, along with the rest of the band’s, genuine passion for the cause is unmistakable. “There’s a thousand other ways to get that signing five albums away, to someone who does not care about you,” he urges. Whilst options can seem limited, Wilson advises younger artists to “never feel backed into a corner.” 

Aside from “murmurs” of a potential chart battle with Rod Stewart and Jools Holland, The Snuts are a band looking forward to their third album release later this month without the drama the last entailed. Armed with a dedicated fanbase and renewed enjoyment of what it means to make music, The Snuts stand to prove the limitations of record labels and offer hope to a future of greater creativity. 


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